Superintendent search may start soon

Robert Smith

The Pawhuska Board of Education, in a Monday meeting, came close to deciding the membership of a search committee that will help select a school superintendent.

The Board of Education met at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Pawhuska Community Center, and drew an audience of about 20 people, many of them teachers. The board solicited comments about what community members want in a new superintendent, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Dr. Janet Neufeld, who was superintendent for two years

The board eventually discussed with the audience the names of potential search committee members, and agreed to try to finalize the membership of the search committee during another meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the school district’s administration building. It was suggested that information about superintendent candidates could be distributed on Friday to search committee members.

Faculty member Jodi Culver said she thinks more than one team of people should be involved in interviewing and evaluating superintendent candidates, and questions should not be general. Rather, the interview/evaluation teams should ask for specifics about the vision and planning that particular candidates will be able to bring to the Pawhuska district, if selected.

Culver also said she thinks the Pawhuska district needs a superintendent who is truly interested in the community, rather than someone who sees the job as a stepping stone along the way to another destination.

“They need to be approachable,” faculty member Shelly Hurd said, explaining teachers need to know they can turn to the new superintendent for assistance. Hurd also said she thinks the district needs to move ahead quickly with the superintendent search, and not drag it out over a period of months.

“I don’t think it’s fair to Mr. Cowan for him to be interim for six months and then we try and find someone,” Hurd said, referring to Pawhuska Elementary Principal Byron Cowan, who has been named interim superintendent.

Faculty member Meghan Davis said it will be “critical” to find someone for the superintendent position who can create an environment in which teachers can walk in and confer about important issues, knowing that what they say won’t be repeated and won’t be held against them.

The new superintendent also will need to become familiar with the talents and professional backgrounds of faculty members, Davis said.

“Lots of times, our superintendents, they don’t have a clue about the gifts or the qualifications of the staff members,” Davis said.

Faculty member Jon Marie Wilson commented about the effect the schools have on the growth and development of Pawhuska. Wilson said she met some people recently who work in Pawhuska, but are not moving their children here because they are not impressed by the schools.

Community member Ladd Drummond addressed the same general concern.

“We have a lot of good things going on in town,” Drummond said, but added that while he wouldn’t say the schools are a hindrance, they aren’t helping.

Board President Justin Sellers said Monday there were already 13 applicants for the open superintendent job.